the g7 summit
and south korea
With the 2021 G7 Summit arriving at Carbis Bay from 11th to 13th June, we explore the history between Cornwall and the nations it will be welcoming. From the sea snail trade to a mystery of the ancient world, here are three Cornish connections with our friends in South Korea – a guest of this year’s G7.
Cornwall is well known for its bountiful waters and the seafood it provides, but amongst its array of daily catches there are certain species that do not quite fit with the appetites of its people. The whelks are very much in that category but, while Cornish and British tastes are sluggish to consider its merits, Cornish fishermen know to still catch them due to their favoured status amongst Asian countries – with South Korea at the top of that list.
Packed full of protein, the taste of this sea snail has a gently sweet and briny flavour that is more mild than its land-dwelling brethren. South Korean recipés include whelk salad and golbaengi-muchim, a spicy noodle dish topped with whelks, cucumber and sesame seeds. Alternatively, the delicacy is eaten as a simple appetiser with garlic and soy sauce.
The pots in which they are caught cause no harm to the seabed beneath them; a sustainable choice for the Cornish of the future, perhaps?
a brother in
Invited to South Korea by the former Archbishop of Seoul, Anthony Teague would come to be widely respected for his contributions to Korean literature and garner the Korean name of An Sonjae, a reference to the little pilgrim of a folk tale who travelled far and wide to collect wisdom.
Born on Lemon Street in Truro to a family whose Cornish roots could be traced back to his great-great-great-grandparents – living no further than Grampound, a barmy eight miles from Truro – the decision of Anthony Teague to relocate to the Far East must have seemed more than a little strange to their family. Arriving amidst the chaos of South Korea’s return to democracy in 1980, Brother Anthony (as he is also known) would not be deterred by the eerie quiet of the streets and the occasional patrol of a tank.
lemon street market
a brother in
While the South Koreans have a modest opinion of their own literature, Brother Anthony would champion it on an international stage with his translations into English; he would recreate spiritual tales that wind through deserts and forests in a search for truth, stories of anguish from the era of conflict and ghost stories that contend with the traps of spirits and nine-tailed foxes.
The Cornish An Sonjae would receive an MBE in 2015 and still lives in South Korea today. The cultures may be disparate but the Brits and the South Koreans share a mutual affection for one particular commodity, a way of life in Brother Anthony’s homes both past and present; he has written two books on South Korea’s long history of tea.
A pair, a triangle or a ring of boulders supporting an even larger capstone on top, the quoits stand solemnly on the Cornish hillside and weather the storms of thousands of years. But on the other side of the world, structures of identically humungous and mythical proportions have been found in South Korea.
Also known as ‘dolmens’ in English and ‘koindol’ or ‘chisongmyo’ in Korean, the quoits have a presence in both Europe and Asia with particularly defined clusters in the Penwith region of Cornwall and in South Korea. Their design has been the speculation for all who have observed them in the millennia since, with archaeologists largely agreeing that they served a funerary purpose; whether in the Korean islands of Ganghwa and Jeju or in the rocky moorland of Cornwall, they were a home for the souls of chieftains and important figures after their passing.
But what historians and archaeologists struggle to grasp is how these great stones were shifted over a distance of many miles with a weight of over 70 tons; it was an undertaking that would need substantial communities and more than a few villages to shift. Furthermore, why would the quoits of places such as Cornwall and South Korea appear so alike, and for identical purposes, despite all evidence suggesting that there was no communication between these Asian and European communities at the time?
A hike between the Penwith quoits allows plenty of time to ponder such questions, passing by Chûn, Bosporthennis, Mulfra, Lanyon and many other constructions as old as the Pyramids of Giza. There may be many thousands of miles between South Korea and Cornwall, but the quoits have become a continent-spanning expression of mankind’s ability to achieve the seemingly impossible.